Tidying Up for Property Managers: How to KonMari Your Property Operations
Like millions of Americans, I’ve gotten sucked into Netflix’s crazy-popular show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. If you haven’t heard of it, you are probably living under a rock, or maybe a big pile of clutter.
The show features Japanese tidying guru, Marie Kondo, as she visits American families whose homes are in disarray. Marie, with the assistance of her translator, helps families declutter using her self-named KonMari method.
In a nutshell, KonMari is about getting rid of items that don’t “spark joy.” The items you select to keep are organized by category (instead of by room) and with specific methods that optimize the home.
The results are life-changing. Kondo believes that clutter and unnecessary objects weighs down one’s ability to lead a joyful and productive life. Each episode illustrates how decluttering allows the show participants to lead happier lives and be more present and focused on what matters to them.
This strangely-addicting show compelled me to purge unnecessary items from my home and up my organization game. I can attest that letting go of things that don’t spark joy has been hugely satisfying. So much so that it’s inspired me to apply Marie Kondo’s principles to other areas of life.
Since we work with property management professionals, I’ve thought of a few ways they can clear the clutter, and become more productive and joyful in their day-to-day lives. Here are a few areas to start:
Cut back on paper checks and increase online rent payment utilization
One of Marie Kondo’s tidying rules is to minimize the amount of paper in your life. Technology has helped community managers become paper-free in most areas, yet many are overrun with paper rent checks month after month. Unlike online rent payments, checks require manual data entry along with a trip to the bank. I’m willing to bet your community managers would tell you that checks are not sparking any joy in their lives, so use these best practices to help increase online rent payment utilization.
For starters, offer a variety of payment options so residents can pick the method that is most convenient for them. If you can, make sure at least one of your online payment options is free for residents to use. Residents will always be more inclined to use something that they don’t have to pay for. Because ACH (also known as e-check) tends to have lower processing fees than other payment methods, community managers sometimes choose to incur these costs instead of passing them along to residents.
Encouraging residents to sign up for recurring payments will also help to decrease the number of paper payments you receive. Almost all online payment providers offer recurring payments, so make sure your residents know that they have the option to set and forget it. When a new resident signs a lease, offer to get them signed up on recurring payments right then so they never have a need to break out the checkbook while they are living in your community.
For residents who don’t want to commit to recurring payments, email or text reminders can also do the trick. Residents opt in with your payment provider, and receive a reminder before rent is due. The reminder includes a link to pay online, so all residents have to do is click to initiate a payment.
Finally, you’re bound to have some residents who want to pay with a check. To minimize the work associated with these payments, consider having check scanners for your community managers to use. Scanning checks will eliminate data entry and reduce errors, plus it gives you faster funding time than manually processing the payment.
Get money orders out of community offices
Another paper item cluttering day-to-day life in your community offices are money orders. Money orders are time-consuming for property managers to process and are also a huge liability since they are so prone to theft. You can avoid having money orders in community offices all together with the help of PayLease’s Cash Pay solution. This lets residents make a cash payment in person from one of 25,000 retail locations, like Walmart. Their payment is electronically sent to community managers and integrates into property management software.
Removing money orders from community offices with the help of Cash Pay has helped many property management companies become more organized and productive. Read a real-life example here.
Minimize incomplete payments by consolidating resident charges onto one neat statement
If your residents pay for things other than rent (for instance utilities, pet fees, parking, etc.), why not bill them for those all at once? Giving residents one statement that clearly outlines each thing that they are responsible for paying is more organized and cuts down on the number of invoices your property managers have to generate. And of course, to clear the paper clutter, these statements can be emailed so residents can read and pay their balance online. Sending consolidated statements is also more efficient because residents can pay their entire balance online, which minimizes incomplete payments and any collection efforts your property managers may be tasked with.
And since you are already looking to cut down on the paper inside your office, convergent billing statements are a great way to increase online payment utilization. One study indicates this practice can increase online payment utilization by at least 25%!
Hand off utility accounts payable to an expert
Utilities expenses carry a lot of operational burdens. Not only are they a major expense, the process of reviewing, auditing, benchmarking and paying each utility invoice puts a lot of undue stress on your team. Of course, the more properties in your portfolio, the more time and resources that are needed to manage this process. Why not move all of these functions to a utility expense management expert?
With Utility Expense Management (UEM), the mountain of utility invoices that are normally sent to your office are instead sent to your UEM provider. Your provider checks each invoice for accuracy (and disputes any errors on your behalf), and also pays them all in a timely manner. The details of each invoice are integrated into your property management software. This frees up considerable time for your staff, eliminates unnecessary costs like overcharges or late payments, and gives you more visibility into utility expenses at each of your properties. Another perk of UEM is that some providers offer built-in business intelligence platforms so you can easily view key utility metrics without the hassle of digging through messy data.
So there you have it. By tidying up property operations, your community managers will be more focused on things that really spark joy for your business like leasing, resident retention. Want more information about our tidying suggestions? Contact us to get your questions answered.
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